This Week in Racing: Royal Ascot's meet didn't disappoint

June 25, 2018 11:00pm

The Royal Ascot experience is like no other. One year removed from my maiden experience there, all the good feelings came rushing back as I watched with keen interest the proceedings from my living room here in Kentucky. Once again, the pageantry, history, and turf racing of the highest quality did not disappoint. A spectacle to be sure, the biggest stars of the five-day meet were the sensational horses.

Alpha Centauri, fresh off an impressive win in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, is not the same filly on soft turf, but proof positive of her brilliance was on full display when she found her preferred good ground at Royal Ascot. Going in, Friday's Group 1 Coronation Stakes looked like a deep and wide open affair. The 3-year-old daughter of Mastercraftsman made it anything but. Trained by 
Jessica Harrington for the Niarchos Family, the grey filly streaked away from the big field in dazzling fashion. 

Not only was the six-length romp visually eye-catching, but the final time for the mile at Ascot of 1:35.89 was more than a second better than the previous course record. A large and imposing filly put in what was undoubtedly the most impressive performance of this year's Royal Ascot meeting. 
Alpha Centauri also seems like a perfect candidate for American turf racing, and her connections have said that this year's Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs is definitely on her radar.

Until then, American race fans will have to admire her from afar. But if she brings this type of performance to Kentucky, the rest might be running for second place.
ZATT's Star of the Week is Alpha Centauri!

The talented young filly was far from the only star at Royal Ascot. In fact, there were many who stepped up in a big way at the glamorous meeting. Chief among them came on Wednesday in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes. Cracksman, who I called the best male turf horse in the world before the race, saw a five-race winning streak snapped by a familiar rival. Poet's Word is a shining example of what a good horse can do with time and patience.

Winless in one start at two, a respectable winner at three, a strong two-time Group 1 placed performer at four, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained charge is becoming a monster at five. Four weeks removed from an impressive win in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes, Poet's Word came to Ascot as the likely main obstacle from another big win for Cracksman. After Wednesday's prestigious race, he exits the Royal meet with a serious claim as the world's best male turf horse.

This likely was not the very best from the champion who easily defeated him last fall. But nonetheless, the way Poet's Word powered right on by, and how the pair left the other very good horses in the field in their dust, places an obvious stamp of high class on the winner. As with Alpha Centauri, he would be an imposing and a very welcome visitor to Churchill Downs for the Breeders' Cup.

Sad news came in from Belmont Park, as one of America's top 3-year-olds, Magnum Moon sustained a very serious injury during a workout on Saturday. The handsome and lightly raced son of Malibu Moon impressively accounted for both the Rebel Stakes and Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park this spring before seeing his perfect record ruined in a sloppy edition of the Kentucky Derby.

The good news, although it is a 
career-ending injury, is that Magnum Moon is reported to have come out of surgery well at Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialists, near Belmont Park. He will begin his long and difficult road to recovery there, and I join the rest of the racing world in wishing him healing prayers in this trying time.

On a brighter note within the 3-year-old male division ... For the second consecutive year, the Ohio Derby produced a fantastic finish. Two of the three horses they bet in the half-million dollar race Saturday at Thistledown,
Core Beliefs and Lone Sailor, who were running several paths apart from each other, and both in search of their first stakes score, hit the finish line in tandem. The photo showed the colt on the far outside, Core Beliefs, had gotten his nose to the line a whisker in front of the race favorite in the nine-furlong test.

A son of hot young sire Quality Road, Core Beliefs continues to improve with each start, having finished third in the Santa Anita Derby and second in the Peter Pan in his previous two starts. The $350,000 two-year-old in training purchase for Gary Broad is trained by Peter Eurton.

Meanwhile, the hard luck loser, Lone Sailor, suffered his second photo finish defeat in a derby, having narrowly lost out in the Louisiana Derby to Noble Indy. The Tom Amoss charge had come to Ohio after running well in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and should make his graded stakes breakthrough sooner or later.

 

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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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